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  • NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct 6- A widening outbreak of fungal meningitis has spread to Minnesota, which reported two cases to become the eighth U.S. state affected, officials said on Saturday.

  • WASHINGTON, Oct 5- Senators from the U.S. Gulf Coast urged President Barack Obama on Friday to ensure that any legal settlement for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill does not undermine a recently passed law that would funnel billions of dollars worth of fines to their states.

  • The staffers who compute the U.S. unemployment rate work in an agency of the Labor Department. Officials who have overseen the work say it's prepared under tight security with no White House input or supervision. The only BLS employee appointed by the White House is the commissioner, who operates independently of the White House.

  • WASHINGTON, Oct 5- Senators from the U.S. Gulf Coast urged President Barack Obama on Friday to ensure that any legal settlement for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill does not undermine a recently passed law that would funnel billions of dollars worth of fines to their states.

  • Other states with cases are Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and Indiana. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 47 cases of meningitis on Friday, while Michigan reported an additional two cases and North Carolina one not included in the CDC count.

  • *White House slams Welch tweet as "ludicrous". BOSTON/ WASHINGTON, Oct 5- BOSTON/ WASHINGTON, Oct 5- Jack Welch, the former chairman of General Electric Co, provoked cries of outrage in Washington on Friday when he suggested that the White House manipulated September job figures for political gains.

  • Other states with cases are Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and Indiana. Tennessee accounts for most of those, and state officials said on Friday the number there had risen to 29 cases, up four from Thursday. Three of the deaths so far have been in Tennessee, where the outbreak began, and one each in Virginia and Maryland.

  • WASHINGTON-- Sasquatch might as well have traipsed across the White House lawn Friday with a lost Warren Commission file on his way to the studio where NASA staged the moon landing. Officials at the Labor Department said the jobs figures are calculated by highly trained government employees without any political interference.

  • FAIRFAX, Va.-- Mitt Romney was still celebrating his widely praised debate performance when the campaign lurched in a different direction. Incumbent and challenger alike campaigned in battleground states during the day, each man starting out in Virginia before the president headed for Ohio and Romney flew to Florida.

  • Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch set off a wave of conspiracy theories Friday by tweeting, "Unbelievable jobs numbers.. these Chicago guys will do anything.. can't debate so change numbers." "Chicago" refers to President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters. " _ "If there's anyone who knows about slashing American jobs, it's Jack Welsh.

  • Cape Canaveral, Fla., Oct 5- Space Exploration Technologies, the first private company to fly to the International Space Station, is poised to launch its initial cargo mission to the orbital outpost as part of a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to deliver supplies.

  • WASHINGTON-- The U.S. unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent for the first time since the month President Barack Obama took office, a surprising lift for both the economy and his re-election hopes in the final weeks of the campaign. It fell because a government survey of households found that 873,000 more people had jobs, the biggest jump since January 2003.

  • *Soybean farmer accused of infringing Monsanto patents. Oct 5- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to consider an Indiana soybean farmer's appeal of an appellate court decision that he infringed Monsanto Co patents ov e r seeds that can be replicated.

  • NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct 5- The number of people stricken with a rare form of meningitis linked to steroid injections rose to 47 in seven U.S. states, the Centers for Disease Control said on Friday, but the number of people killed by the outbreak remained at five. Other states with cases are Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and Indiana.

  • *White House slams Welch tweet as "ludicrous". BOSTON/ WASHINGTON, Oct 5- Jack Welch, the lionized former chairman of General Electric Co, provoked cries of outrage in Washington on Friday when he appeared to accuse the White House of manipulating September job figures for political gains.

  • And the 7.8 percent September unemployment rate, down from 8.1 percent in August, was clearly welcome to President Barack Obama. That was so for both Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. For Reagan, unemployment peaked at 10.8 percent in November and December 1982.

  • NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct 5- Tennessee confirmed on Friday four more cases of rare fungal meningitis, as health officials in 23 states scrambled to notify thousands of patients who received steroid injections linked to an outbreak that has killed five people. Three of the dead were in Tennessee, where the outbreak began, and one each in Virginia and Maryland.

  • *Dish says Gannett wants it to shut down Hopper DVR. *Gannett source says it never asked Dish to disable Hopper. Oct 5- Gannett Co Inc and the Dish Network Corp are sparring over fees that could leave Dish customers blacked out from major networks on Sunday in a fight the No. 2 satellite TV provider said involves its controversial DVR, the Hopper.

  • TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-- An appellate court is urging the Florida Legislature to reconsider a state law that makes injured employees pay employers' legal costs if they lose good faith workers compensation appeals. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee made that recommendation Friday in upholding such an order.

  • AIRING: This ad by the Obama campaign is airing in the closely contested states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. SCRIPT: Republican nominee Mitt Romney said in the first presidential debate that he's "not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. It cuts to an image of NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell citing the Tax Policy Center report.